Contentment – do you have it?

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“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have” Socrates

What a powerful quote!  

We are taught to value education, excel in our studies, seek a career with a lucrative income in order to buy the four bed semi-detached house with a white garage on a tree lined road. Not to mention two long haul holidays a year – flying business class of course! 

Absolutely nothing wrong with having any of the above (I rather like the idea of two exotic holidays) but when does striving for more turn to greed?  At what point will we be satisfied with “our lot?” 

As we are informed that we can attain more, the likelihood of us reaching for this increases. It is human nature. We are survivors and generally will do what it takes – some with far more integrity than others, mind. 

I laugh when I think back to working part-time and had this wonderful idea of significantly increasing my direct debit payment to a children’s charity once I left university. Naively, I did not consider that once working full-time I would grow to enjoy using my disposable income to travel, buy clothes, eat out regularly.  Is this not the done thing though, at least with young people – spending according to what you earn?

The city banker earning, let us say £200,000p/a is striving to earn £300,000. He knows exactly how he will spend the additional income; private schooling for the children, ski-ing, holiday home in France.  His ‘brother’ earning £100,000 believes he will be so much better off if he earned £200,000. Little does he realise that he would increase his standard of living then go on to dream of earning £300,000 just as his ‘brother’ had.

I admit that being financially stable gives you one less thing to be concerned about.  Also, being in nice surroundings and free to spend as you wish (reasonably) makes one feel good about themselves.  

It will serve us well to count our blessings, most especially when we feel downcast or disappointed. It is at this time that we are more inclined to look at what we do not have and allow our hearts to be discouraged. 

Are you content with your life? If not, what would you like to change? 

Is there anything you can do to make the change possible?

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40 thoughts on “Contentment – do you have it?”

  1. Hi Phoenicia,

    I love the Socrates quote you started with and will be sharing that. 🙂
    Also sharing this post. I think it’s important to remember to enjoy the journey along the way toward your goal.

    I can’t say I’m 100% content with everything in my life, but when I start to dwell on the minority that’s not perfect, I get out of whack. I practice counting my blessings (as Rin said) and thank my heavenly father for all that’s good and right in my life and this world.

    Thanks for helping us pause and reflect on contentment.

    Matthew

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    1. Thank you Matthew for offering to share my post. I appreciate it and am glad you enjoyed my blog post.

      I think the key is to focus on what you do have rather than what you do not have. I am still learning this one.

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  2. I guess you can say I’m content at the moment. Life is going pretty well. I am doing good in a lot of areas right now. I know they will only get better.

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  3. What a thoughtful post with thoughtful comments, Phoenicia. It’s timely for me for two reasons: as of last Friday, I was laid off from my day job (post pending!) which has given me time to focus on writing–a person can’t job hunt 8 hours a day (or this person can’t); and Bible study started for the fall/winter/spring–we are studying Matthew.

    There have been times I have been content/discontent throughout my life. When I became a Christian, discontentment evaporated. That still shocks me several years into this venture. Maybe to my detriment at times, it has never been about earning money. It has been more about am I having fun, serving a purpose, and do I have good friends. All good stuff, but I do wonder if really rich people give that up to have money or I just think I would have had to sacrifice one for the other.

    Very thought provoking. I’ll be thinking about this all day!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed reading my blog, Rose Mary. I am sorry to hear about your job loss. A person of your calibre will not struggle to find employment elsewhere.

      Bible study – how interesting. Hope you find it rewarding. I have had moments of discontentment as a Christian and non-Christian. We really do go through stages.

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  4. The happiness I think is the struggle. You listen to people who end up making millions, starting from nothing, their fondest memories are of those days when they were struggling, saving every penny for the nest big step.
    When you think about it, when you reach your highest point, what do you have to look forward to?

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  5. At some point, I think we all have to realize that happiness is not waiting around the corner – it’s right here and right now, we just have to recognize it for what it is. As you so aptly point out, it’s not that extra sum of money you wish you had. Or the extra few pounds you’d like to lose, or the nicer garden you yearn for. We have to look for happiness, or contentment, under our noses!

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  6. Hi Phonencia,

    I’m very content with my life, I think I always have been. I have a small home and I like it that way. I don’t have a lot of things but again, I like it that way.

    I would think that most everyone would enjoy financial freedom mostly for the enjoyment of never having to worry about money again. Things happen, stuff comes up all while wanting to enjoy life so worrying about it when you don’t have it always seems like a revolving door for most.

    I do believe that if you can dream, imagine and feel that it’s yours then doors will open in order to make it so. Just continue to believe and leave the rest up to God.

    ~Adrienne

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  7. Phoenicia, in a quick scan of the comments after reading your post, you’re definitely onto something. I remember hearing once (wish I could remember who said this) that as long as being #1, being the very best, the most successful are states that we aim for, contentment will be out of reach. For the most part, I am totally content. For the least part that I am not, it’s really no big deal in the big picture. It’s the last hurdle, fortunately not too high, to wrap up my contentment with a big, red bow.

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  8. The quote that you start with is very interesting. It’s pretty much saying some people will never be happy with where they are, what they have.
    I think stable is a good way to be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to get further.
    We should always want to improve when it comes to our career and income. Personally I strive to improve my families income. The good thing about this is as our income improves, the new income will be put to good use. We have gotten by on less, so the new income will not be wasted. Money doesn’t by happiness, by it does relieve stress.

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  9. Brilliant quote by Socrates. I guess that kind of insight is why we know who he is after all of these centuries. It certainly does seem that just about anyone whose focus has been on accumulating wealth never stops wanting more. At some point the money itself seems to become what matters, not what you could use it for.

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  10. Even though my financial situation has changed drastically in the last year, I am definitely happier with less. Just because we have more disposable income, we find ways to quote unquote waste it. Rather than dreaming out a bigger house which is what the ex wanted, I am now hoping to one day downsize to a tiny house.

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  11. Such an appropriate post for me, Phoenicia. I am content with my life, but really need to boost my income in order to sustain my lifestyle;e. I have tried cutting back on many expenses, and have been working hard to make the connections to correct the financial shortfall.
    Thx for the inspiration.

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  12. Wonderful topic Phoenicia! I can honestly say I am content with my life – love where I live and what I’m doing for a living now. That said, I also have an appreciation for the literal and intrinsic value of money … it may not buy happiness, but it does open the door to more freedom and choices. I’m just not willing to give up my peace-of-mind or integrity to get more of it. 🙂

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  13. Maybe it comes easier with age. I am far more content today than I was 20 years ago and I “had” more in terms of financial security. But I am very content with who I have become and look forward to growing even more.

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  14. Hi Phoenicia,
    I work at contentment every day by counting my blessings and living in the moment. Even when money is an issue, I can be grateful for good food, a warm home, the opportunity to live surrounded by nature, the affection of my companion animals, good books to read, classical music programs on radio, my health, my education, my adult children, and on and on. By the time I finish counting these blessings, I have usually forgotten about what I “don’t have”.

    Rin

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  15. Phonencia, I am content with my situation in life but then I’m fortunate in may ways. I am retired, have family I love and who love me, have activities I totally enjoy, I am not rich, don’t take holidays, don’t own the latest model car or have fancy gadgets but what I do have I treasure and take care of.

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  16. Thanks for sharing Erica. As we grow older, our tastes for luxury items enhances. As a student you can “rough it” but as an adult you desire the finer things in life – and why not?

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  17. Great post! I tend to be content from time to time on where we are. But, wish I was able to feel more content more often. I tend to be a saver. I feel that financial security is important for people in the U.S. especially because we have to save for our retirement. It is amazing how many people I know that don’t have any money for when they retire. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. Sabrina – financial security is important. Even here in the UK where you receive a state pension, you need a buffer in order to be comfortable. It really is a paltry sum of money. Pensions and savings are the way to go. If you do not directly benefit from them- your next of kin will.

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  18. The richer you are, the more expensive it is to “keep up with the Jones”. You live in a richer neighborhood where people have nicer things and you’re still in a situation of wanting more than you have. I grew up in a household where we were middle class for the first half of my childhood and more upper class for the second. The first half of my childhood was definitely a happier time. So I came into adulthood with this true contentment in having very little. In fact, I almost took pride in it. Now that I’m older, I’m more yearning to have the finer things in life. However, I do often remind myself that money makes life easier, but it certainly doesn’t buy happiness.

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